Community art exhibit celebrates the world of food


Heather Beshears

Throughout history, food and culture have met in art. We have an incredible connection to food through our senses — we love the taste, texture, colors, smells and even the sounds food creates. Wide-open farmlands, colorful produce and the buzzing of a beehive are all aspects of food and its vital importance to our lives.

Arizona State University has launched its Action, Advocacy, Arts Fall 2015 exhibit, transforming halls and spaces on the Downtown Phoenix campus into hubs of conversation and social and cultural engagement.

Organized in collaboration with ASU’s College of Public Service & Community Solutions, the College of Health Solutions and the School of Letters and Sciences, the exhibit provides community organizations and individuals the opportunity to share valuable visual-art stories with students and community members in the downtown ASU community.

The exhibit, "Feast Your Eyes," includes works of various media — including paintings, collages, pencil drawings and sculpture — that explore the role food plays in our lives.

“I wanted the goal of the exhibition to be the exploration of art and culture surrounding food and to examine the various meanings associated with something that is at the very core of living,” said Carrie Tovar, curator of art in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“This is a theme that every living thing can relate to. … I received paintings that were close studies of fruits or vegetables; I received art works focusing on the foods of other cultures. … I also included thought-provoking images on the lack of food, sustainable farming and the necessity of food banks,” Tovar said.

One of the artists featured is ASU student Alexandra Brunet-Giambalvo.

“My work is inspired by my interests in small details, nature and bright colors,” said Brunet-Giambalvo. One of her featured works is an oil painting titled “Avocado,” painted on a wooden panel.

“I really love the way blues and greens look in the natural world. To open an avocado and see dozens of different greens is fascinating to me,” she said.

Flagstaff-based artist Rhonda Thomas-Urdang submitted two sushi-themed works inspired by the semester’s theme. Her two collages, “Sushi Goddess No. 2” and “Mama-san Nymph No. 4,” explore links between female principle, union, love, fertility and growth.

The artist incorporated original paper dolls from 1940, decorative rice papers, paper umbrellas, lace and other printed elements in the works.

She coined the term “femmages” to describe her work, which she defines as art made from a feminine perspective through a combination of paint and fabric with deliberate references to feminine imagery and icons.

“It's a pleasure to make a difference by participating in this group art exhibition at the ASU Downtown campus — a central hub of significant conversation, social change and cultural engagement,” Thomas-Urdang said.

The exhibit is on display through Dec. 5 on the first, second and third floors of the University Center building on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. The gallery is free to view and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for holidays.

Guided tours may be arranged by contacting Carrie Tovar at For more on Action, Advocacy, Arts, visit

Written by Adrianna Ovnicek